I've eaten oatmeal since I was a kid especially when we were out of cereal. Usually it was the Quaker Instant Oats (Apple Cinnamon was my favourite with Maple Brown Sugar a close second, Peaches and Cream was gross, who eats that?!?!) and that stayed the same until recently.
I find oatmeal to have some really awesome benefits
- It can be really creative, there is no end to the add-ins you can put in it or type of oats you can use. The flavours are always different.
- It's filling, you never leave hungry.
- It has tons of fibre which keeps you full longer and is good for the plumbing.
- It's cheap, you can buy plain rolled oats for pennies in bulk.
- It's warm and comforting. Maybe that's just for us in the northern climates, but nothing beats oatmeal on a chilly day. I know some people eat cold oatmeal too, it's not my thing unless I mix it in soy or almond yogurt, but to each their own.
One of the biggest worries I hear about a vegan diet is lack of iron. Well 100 grams of oatmeal contains 33% of your daily intake of iron. Mix that non-heme (meaning not coming from animal foods) with vitamin C and it's much more easily absorbed for you (add strawberries to your oatmeal for example). Oatmeal is also high in Vitamin B6, and is known to lower Cholesterol. Given that I always add raw pumpkin seeds to the top of my oatmeal (about 1/8 of a cup) which contains 5% of your daily iron, 17% of your daily magnesium and 5 grams of protein it makes for a great start to the day.
Other add-ins to consider are hemp seeds (high in protein, iron, vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and omega 3's which we are all sorely lacking), chopped raw nuts, chia seeds or flax seeds. Those are my go to protein packed add-ins.
For something sweet I'll slice up a small banana, mix in some no sugar added jam, unsweetened coconut flakes, goji berries, raisins or my favourite, frozen fruit that gets all syrupy when cooked with the oatmeal (like the frozen raspberries cooked in the oatmeal at the top of this post.)
Can oatmeal reverse heart disease? I don't know, I'll let the experts argue about that. I just want to convince you that it isn't at all boring. About once a week I'll make pancakes or waffles for the kid and I because we like them. Particularly after a long training run. But most days I just want warm, healthy comforting oatmeal.
One last word before I get to the recipe. There are tons of different varieties of oats. I prefer steel cut oats or whole rolled oats. I also buy freekeh sometimes which isn't technically oatmeal but it cooks the same and spelt flakes are nice as well. Grab small bags of each in your bulk section and try them. When I'm unsure I'll mix them half and half with regular oatmeal but I've yet to find a variety that doesn't suit me. I do occasionally buy instant oats which I'll keep if I'm in a crazy hurry, but like most grains I believe that whole grains are best for you. Lastly I do prepare mine on the stovetop the old fashioned way but I also use my slow cooker quite often. We bought a very small slow cooker at Superstore (it's a Canadian discount grocer) for around $20. It works perfectly and you wake up with ready to eat breakfast.
In a slow cooker put in:
- 1/2 cup of steel cut oats
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of nut milk (almond, soy, coconut, flaxseed, whatever you have on hand)
- a dash of cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
Put on lowest heat and leave overnight for 8 or 9 hours. If you sleep less, say between 6 and 8 hours reduce the water or nut milk by 1/2 a cup or it will be soupy.
When you wake up stir the oatmeal and spoon into a bowl. Add on top:
- 1/8 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp of hemp seeds
- a couple of sliced strawberries, half a sliced banana, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries.
- add additional nut milk if you want to make the mixture more liquid, or don't if you like it chunky
Alternatives to coconut shreds are dried goji berries (they plump up nice overnight in the slow cooker) or frozen berries. I sometimes just take frozen berries out the night before and leave in a bowl in the fridge. Raspberries in particular sometimes get juicy and they are nice to pour on the oatmeal when it's ready to eat.
Experiment, enjoy, be healthy! And yes I do eat this huge portion. My meals tend to be larger in the morning and get smaller as the day goes on. Don't eat this before a hard morning workout or you'll feel like your running with a brick in your stomach. Save it for afterwards.